Sunburn Itch Remedies

Sunburn can be itchy, red and tender, but at-home sunburn itch remedies are often effective for superficial sunburns.

Have you experienced a sunburn itch? Maybe you've spent a beautiful sunny day at the beach only to end up with a less than ideal sunburn itch. A sunburn itch has a demanding feeling that makes you lose your focus on important things. As such, it can be useful to know some easy remedies that will help you get rid of your present sunburn and alleviate the resultant pain and itching.

What Is Sunburn Itch?

Have you ever suffered from sunburn? Then that painful itching you experienced is known as sunburn or hell’s itch. According to research, 10%-15% of all people have experienced the hell’s itch. It can, at times, be unrelenting as the irritation can persist and keep you awake for nights as the skin heals.

If you are wondering what to do or not to do in case you get a sunburn itch, this article will give you some insight into everything you need to know about sunburn itch and the remedies available.

Causes of Sunburn Itch

Sunburn itch occurs after getting a sunburn. The sun contains powerful UV rays which, when exposed on your skin, can cause damage, especially without proper protection. Your skin burns on the top layer, causing irritating pain, blistering, and redness.

Mild itching is a typical symptom of sunburn. Severe itching can also occur, but it's not common. Your brain receives signals about itching and pain from your skin’s nerve endings. If the nerves get aggravated or damaged, they send itching signals to your brain rapidly during the healing period of your skin.

Yes, it is true that persons with light skin and eyes burn quickly in the sun than those who are dark-skinned. But that doesn’t mean that they are also more prone to sunburn itch.

Symptoms of Sunburn Itch

A sunburn itch becomes evident after 24-72 hours of staying in the sun. Many people experience sunburn itch symptoms on their back and shoulders as these are the parts that usually get exposed to the sun.

Also, these areas typically do not receive adequate SPF protection which protects the skin against sun rays. As such, do not shy away from requesting a loved one, family member, or friend to help you out on those hard to reach areas.

Peeling skin or itchiness after spending a few hours in the sun isn’t unusual. However, once you start experiencing pain, it graduates to a sunburn itch. Some people have experienced the pain of sunburn itchiness as:

  • Throbbing
  • Deep
  • Hard to treat
  • Like fire ants biting and moving on the affected area

How to Prevent Sunburn Itch?

It’s not possible to predict whether you will get sunburn itch after suffering from sunburn. However, by taking proper precautions, you can easily avoid developing a sunburn itch. Here’s how:

  • Apply sunscreen daily

Use a moisturizer daily containing SPF on your exposed skin such as neck and face.

  • Use enough sunscreen

Do not limit the amount of sunscreen on your bare skin. Apply enough. An adult’s whole body requires approximate 1 ounce of sunscreen. This is equivalent to a full short glass or palm.

  • Frequent application of sunscreen

Make sure you apply sunscreen after toweling off or swimming. Also, make sure that, after at least every two hours, you reapply the sunscreen.

  • Use of broad-spectrum sunscreen

Sunscreens with a minimum of SPF 30 are perfect for protecting your skin from harmful sun rays.

  • Covering up

Wear protective clothing like hats or long-sleeved shirts/blouses if you will be spending time in the sun.

  • Avoid being in the sun at the hottest times of the day

The sun is usually at its most powerful from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. Try to avoid going out into the sun during these times or stay in the shade where possible.

How Do You Treat Sunburn Itch?

Fortunately, many sunburn itch remedies can be applied at home. With only a few procedures, you can manage the itch until the skin heals completely. Here are some helpful tips on treating hell’s itch:

1. Covering the burnt skin

Have you ever experienced heat on a scorched area? If you have, you understand why it’s important to protect the sunburned skin from the hot sun. When the sun is at its peak, especially between 10 am to 4 pm, seek shade if you have to go outside. Remember, for the already sunburned skin, it becomes very sensitive or painful when you apply sunscreen lotion. In this regard, a more comfortable option will be to shield yourself from the sun or wear protective clothing.

2. Oral antihistamine

You can reduce the itch and catch up on some sleep by taking some commonly used allergy symptoms drugs like Benadryl.

3. Use Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs are helpful in relieving inflammation and pain caused by sunburn itch. Examples include:

  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen

4. Cool compressing of the affected area

Cooling the affected skin with a damp cloth or towel helps in reducing pain and that itchy feeling.

5. Bathe in lukewarm water mixed with colloidal oatmeal

Did you know that colloidal oatmeal contains anti-inflammatory properties? In fact, this remedy is renowned for stopping the itch from:

  • Chickenpox
  • Eczema
  • Poison ivy

6. Aloe vera application

Amazingly, aloe vera has wound-healing properties. It is a known successful traditional remedy for sunburn. When using aloe vera, avoid those that have added ingredients such as alcohol, numbing agents, or fragrances as they may irritate the affected area. Look for natural aloe vera gel.

7. Cortisone cream

You can get it over the counter and it is perfect in containing the itch. It will also assist in soothing the affected area in case of an inflammation.

8. Drinking a lot of water

When you drink plenty of water, your skin becomes hydrated which prevents it from dryness. Some sports drinks with electrolytes are helpful in preventing one from the risk of becoming dehydrated.

In Case Of Sunburn Itch, What Should You Not Do?

You need to be careful when handling sunburn itch. Mismanagement or lack of knowledge may lead to damaging the skin further or making the itch worse. Here are things you should avoid:

  • Use of numbing creams or topical pain relief

According to research, gels containing benzocaine, a pain reliever, did not succeed in eliminating the sunburn itch.

  • Blister popping

Sometimes, severe sunburns cause blisters. But you should not pop them as they expose the open skin to infection and increase the pain. You wouldn’t want your skin to get damaged and heal with an ugly scar. Therefore, leave the blisters alone! Only a medical professional can pop them if need be where adequate care should get applied and the wound sterilized, well-dressed or bandaged.

  • Scratching

It is true that when you scratch an itchy place, you get relieved. But it is only temporary. Frequent scratching damages the skin. With sunburns, your skin’s top layer becomes tender and sensitive. Scratching it only prolongs its healing process and you will experience more pain.

  • Placing ice on the affected area

Intense coldness hinders the skin from healing. It is therefore not advisable to place ice directly on the affected skin. Sometimes, ice can cause frostbite. Instead, use covered ice packs made for use on the skin. Alternatively, you can use a cool wet cloth or towel.

  • Taking time while bathing or showering

Water makes the skin moist. But if you bathe for too long, moisture is actually pulled from the skin, making the itching worse.

When Can You Visit A Doctor?

A sunburn itch can be very painful. In some cases, the pain might even be excruciating. Fortunately, the itch occurs only within that period the skin takes to heal. But in some cases, you have no choice but to visit a medical practitioner. The sunburn may get infected while the itch intensifies. To avoid such, the following tips should act as an indicator that you need to consult a physician.

1. If the sunburn occurs in a large part of your body and causes severe blistering.

If you experience the following:

  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Chills

The symptoms above indicate sun poisoning and require immediate medical attention.

3. If you see pus or red streaks on the affected skin, it is a clear indication of an infection.

4. Severe sunburn on a child.

Sunburn itch is not hard to recognize, and you can easily diagnose it successfully. Thanks to the advent of technology, people post personal experiences with sunburn itch on the internet. As a result, a lot of information gets accumulated about hell’s itch as it's known. The condition is extremely irritating and uncomfortable, but it’s not life-threatening.

What makes it stunning is the fact that one can treat sunburn itch at home. But this should not make you careless and irresponsible as exposure to the sun's UV rays can lead to skin cancer, even if you apply aftersun to control the pain following sunburn. Monitor the nature and progress of your sunburn itch. If the symptoms persist and become worse with time, seek medical advice immediately. As indicated above, you have no reason to panic over sunburn itch. Neither should you allow it to get out of control. You now know how to manage and treat one. Go ahead and enjoy those sunny days to the fullest by protecting yourself using the prevention tips laid out above.